A Christian financial planner endorsed by Donald Trump's evangelical advisor Robert Jeffress has been indicted on Ponzi scheme charges after allegedly stealing millions from senior citizens.
Religion News Network reported Thursday that W. Neil "Doc" Gallagher, age 78, allegedly stole more than $19 million from senior citizens who heard his paid radio broadcasts in Texas.
The day prior to his March 8 arrest, the Securities and Exchange Commission claimed Gallagher ran a "classic Ponzi scheme" in a complaint filed against him and two of his companies, the report noted.
In the scheme alleged by the SEC, Gallagher "continually signed up new investors and used their money to make monthly disbursements to earlier investors," telling the senior citizens who gave him their money that those payments "were the profits generated through his surefire management of their retirement portfolios," RNS reported.
The man who billed himself as "The Money Doctor" on the radio claimed he would help seniors plan their retirement and was guided by the scripture, blending investment advice with Christian messages.
"Our mission is to be a vehicle of God’s peace and comfort to as many people as possible," the Gallagher Financial Group claimed on its website, "helping first with their financial peace of mind, then also with their spiritual, emotional, and family well-being."
According to the SEC, Gallagher has "no valid securities-industry credentials" and was in 1999 "reprimanded by the Texas State Securities Board for engaging in fraudulent business practices, including falsifying receipts and falsely advertising himself as a registered investment adviser."